After our first release, besides feature requests, one of the remarks we heard the most was that there is too much text on the home page, which makes it hard to understand what Kodesk is really about, or worse, makes it look like what it is not. Now we sure have a lot to do in terms of web design to make the message clearer, more visual and better structured. But we thought something else could help a lot with getting our message through: an explanatory video.
So we started looking around, asking a few video agencies how much it would cost to produce an AirBNB-like video of a few minutes. And clearly we had underestimated the budget: somewhere along the lines of a few thousands to a few tens of thousands of euros. Clearly out of budget scope for a bootstrapping startup like us. So we thought, since we want to be a lean startup, it’s time to get creative and do some lean marketing.
First things first, let’s throw in a scenario. Let’s tell a story, actually 2 stories and how they mix thanks to the beauty of Kodesk. A simple text editor and I got this.
In parallel to that, I wanted a nice, clear and joyful voice-over to actually tell our little story. A very talented entrepreneur friend of mine had done his own video for Ghostbloggers and I liked the voice on his video a lot. He pointed me to the incredible Fiverr, where I found this wonderful lady with this amazing voice. I bought 3 gigs from her, sent her my script and after two days, I got this.
Now, how about some animation. Keynote itself is too poor for what I want to do. What better tool to tell a story than the infamous Prezi. First I took a subscription because I wanted my Prezi to be private until it was complete. It was the first time I used Prezi, so there was some learning curve involved, but it was worth it since I got this:
Then I wanted to turn this Prezi into a video so I needed a screencast recording tool. Actually I already had one that I have been using for years because it is very powerful and yet pretty simple to use: let’s go for iShowU HD. I know I could have used one of the free tools that do almost the same, but I already had a licence for this one, so why bother.
To do the actual recording I needed to play the Prezi on my desktop at a size of my choosing. The online player didn’t allow me to do that so I upgraded to Prezi Pro so that I could use the full power of Prezi Desktop (remove the Prezi logo and so on). Then I launched Prezi Desktop, sized it to fit in iShowU’s preview window, played laika’s voice-over in background and advanced Prezi steps with the keyboard in sync with the audio. I didn’t record the audio at this point, I just used it as a sync track.
Next, I needed some music. Once again, Davy’s help was precious as he found me this marvel on AudioJungle. The original story was a little too long and there were some parts I was not satisfied with, so I removed a few steps in Prezi and cut out the corresponding parts in the voice-over using Audacity until it was 2:20 minutes, right about the length of the music.
The last step was to launch iMovie, import the Prezi screencast, the voice-over and the music and almost by magic, it all fit together. Each section of the animation mapped perfectly to a section of the music track. Et voila!
Now remember the 20-grand budget I was talking about earlier? Sure, this video may not be as good as what we would have gotten through a specialized agency, and it’s certainly not as good as AirBNB’s (hint hint hint ;o), and we will probably hire one once we get out of bootstrap mode. But I think it does the job pretty damn well and here is what it cost us:
- Script: 0€
- Graphics on TheNounProject : 0€
- Keynote: was not essential and I already had it
- Prezi Pro subscription: $159, around 110€ (that I’m probably going to reuse, but even then…)
- Voice-over on Fiverr: $15, around, 11€
- Music on AudioJungle: $19, around 13€
- iMovie: not essential, had it for free on my Mac when I bought it, you could use Windows Movie Maker or any other free video montage software
Total budget: $193, around 133€
Now that’s pretty lean, don’t you think? I just wanted to write this post because I thought maybe other startups were in our situation looking for a quick and cheap way to explain their concept visually. So what do you think?